Showing posts from 2015

Uniting Church, Jesus and Palestinians

A blog written by MICHAEL VAN DER GALIEN came across my screen tonight. It's here In this piece Van Der Galien affirms that Jesus was in fact a Jew, and that he was not in modern terms a Palestinian. He even cites Peter Wertheim who as executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry sent a letter asking for help from the Uniting Church, Australia's third largest Protestant denomination. Wertheim is quoted as writing,

"The proposition that Jesus was a Palestinian and that the Palestinian Arab population of today are his “living descendants” is so absurd and offensive that it deserves an immediate and substantive rebuttal."

In response the Uniting Church president Stuart McMillan wrote a general letter to the public saying,
"I would like to assure you and the Jewish community that the Uniting Church does not accept the view that Jesus was Palestinian. We affirm that Jesus and most of his early followers were Jewish. We note that Jesus was born…

Explosives and Australia

New Years Eve is just a day away and all eyes will be on Sydney's Harbour Bridge and fireworks extravaganza. Each year the projections climb about the numbers of people who will be watching either or both of the 9 pm or the midnight shows. Another million will be at the foreshore and millions around the country and around the world will see the scenes of fireworks up and down the Parramatta River. It will be a jubilant and festive time.

Today though is Wednesday 30 December and many in Melbourne awoke to news of a tragic explosion near Altona on the Princess Freeway. The news of this explosion is not festive or jubilant at all. Two teenage boys are dead and questions are still flooding in about the causes of the accident. We are up to 256 dead nationally in this holiday period. Hardly a holiday.

That's not all the bad news from Melbourne. In Footscray yesterday a gas tank exploded being carried in the back of a truck and killed the driver which then sent his truck into a num…

The coin toss and the captain who chooses

The coin flip at the beginning of overtime in today's New England Patriots vs New York Jets is controversial. Not that the coin landed on its side. The call by special teams captain Matthew Slater #18 may have been the weirdest call in history. I watched the replay several times. Referee Clete Blakeman said after Slater chose 'heads' and it landed 'heads', "You want to kick?" And then the response by Slater was almost parroting. "We want to kick" When Slater argued "We won, don't we get to choose?" it appeared that Slater tried to fix things, but Blakeman wouldn’t let him. The commentators wondered if it was 'muscle memory' as the Patriots often when winning the toss at a game's beginning will choose to defer/ kick and take the kickoff at the 2nd half. This whole ending was odd.

Right now, there is discussion in cricket to scrap the tradition of the coin toss, and when we say 'tradition' we are talking sinc…

Can we say "Christmas"? In public?

I check snopes so often it's not funny. Here's the one I check this time of year from Jewish actor Ben Stein and his confessions for the holidays . He says, "I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are — Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they're slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we're all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year." This is in reaction to the overreaction of so many to the "Christ" references in the holiday celebrated by Christians and with his obvious commitments to the Jewish religion.

Down in Victoria, the education guidelines are hardly clear. In fact the guidelines could have been drawn by a primary school kid with a new crayon. Here is the article by The Age reporter Henrietta Cook . She reports, "State school students can sing Christmas carol…

Can an airline really do this?

Apparently this whole thing is legal. I'm shocked. And saddened. It's that Kuwait Airlines will not allow people of a country they don't like fly on their airplanes. What? This sounds like something from another era, but not in 2015. But read this article from the New York Post here

Yes, the airlines which now no person of good will should ever fly, has admitted that Israelis cannot fly on their planes. How dare they!

This from Wikipedia
"Kuwait Airlines was accused of discriminating against holders of Israeli passports, for refusing in 2013 and 2014 to sell tickets from New York to London to people holding such passports.

In response, Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with five other USA senators, wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in May 2015 urging him to investigate the allegations. In October 2015, at the conclusion of an investigation, the US Department of Transportation issued Kuwait Airways an order to “cease and desist from refusing …

'Twas the Friday before Christmas... (around the JFJ Book Shop)

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore: (And with 18% off all day Friday in mind)

'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the shop
all the creatures were stirring, especially Bob.
The stock list was read by the staff with great care,
in hopes that the customers soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their prams,
while mothers drank lattes swirled in cups in their hands.
And James with his coffee, and I at the till,
had just settled the latest purchaser's bill.

"Now Rosen! Now Brickner!
Now, Levitt and Mike Brown!
On, Rosenthal, Cahn And Edersheim's down!
To the cards and DVDs!
To the music on the wall!
Now sale away! Sale away!
The [18% off] sale's on for you all!"

We spoke out The Word, this is truly our work,
and filled all the orders, then turned with a jerk.
And prayed up to Heaven, sweet smell in God's nose,
and giving His nod, in a moment we rose.

We sprang to our friends, the whole team gave a whistle,


This may seem an odd blog, but we want to let you know that THIS FRIDAY, 18 December in Sydney at our book shop, we are selling EVERYthing in the shop at 18% off. 18 on 18 The address is 257 Oxford Street, across the street from where we used to be for 9 years, and where we have been for 18 months already. We are 100 metres from the BEACH end of Westfield and if you take the bus or train, we are less than 5 minutes from the Bondi Junction interchange. We open at 7 am and close at 5:30 pm this week... see you for GREAT deals all day. This includes books by Fruchtenbaum and Katz, Rosen and Brickner, while supplies last. Jewish holidays, the Feasts of the Lord, books on Israel and the Holocaust, even classical Hebrew studies.

Also every candle and oil, all the CDs and DVDs, EVERYTHING is on sale. We welcome you and your mates. Tis the season to buy gifts; why not get a godly gift to give? Y tenemos libros y discos en español también!

On the 6th day of Hanukkah...

We are more than halfway through the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and maybe this Vox Pop with Jewish people from a few years ago says what you think about the holiday. YouTube 2009. But then maybe it's more about sitting at a table and eating like some think on this one from THIS year says it better VoxPop2015 .

But then again, it's possible that you haven't really pondered the real story of Hanukkah. This quick synopsis might help.

Jews were not very significant in the world of 168 BCE and the real powers in the Middle East were the Syrian/Greeks and the Egyptians. They used what we call Israel as a venue for fighting. Who wants to fight in their own backyard? The Syrians were the dominant force. One day they came into Jerusalem and desecrated the Jewish Holy Temple with idols set up to the Seleucid king Antiochus IV and also with sacrificing of a pig. Doubly bad! Judah Maccabee and his little family stood up and asked for volunteers to withstand the Greeks and to wage …

Who are Messianic Jews?

In the wake of the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, literally thousands of articles have emerged about one of the victims, Nicholas Thalasinos. Those reports have identified Thalasinos as a Messianic Jew. They also say that he got into heated discussions about the nature of Islam with co-worker Syed Farook, who authorities say carried out the attack along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik.

New York Daily News columnist Linda Stasi is now saying that Thalasinos shares the blame for the attack because of strongly-worded posts on his Facebook page.

In a balanced and informative article today, Jewish Telegraphic Agency [JTA] writer Uriel Heilman noted that Thalasinos was actually a “Gentile supporter of Israel.” He noted that “Thalasinos apparently identified as a messianic Jew, but not as Jewish.” As recently as September, Thalasinos wrote to a friend, “As a gentile who loves HaShem, I know my place is to support Israel and the Jewish people.”

We mourn the death of all fourteen victims…

Rabbi Heir and Jesus...which one is true?

I've been watching YouTube videos for the last few days, not trolling, but amazed at what my computer recommends for me to see. On Larry King Live, a CNN TV interview show, Larry often entered religious considerations and especially the "who goes to heaven" debate. On this episode Larry King is interviewing several religionists including Rabbi Marvin Heir, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Larry at the 35 minute mark asks Rabbi Heir who he thinks Jesus is. The rabbi's answer is fascinating.

Larry: "How do you view Jesus, rabbi?"
Heir: "I would say that Jesus was a great teacher. I do not believe that he was divine. I do not believe that he was the son of God."

Here's a problem, Rabbi Heir. The 'great teacher' actually taught that he was divine and that he was the Son of God. So here's the rub... can a man be a great teacher and a liar? Can a man be considered great and fool billions of people over c…

Is it time to share what I believe?

One reader asks, “You want me to talk to Mr. Goldberg….about Jesus? And during Christmas?”

In October, Myer and David Jones began to feature Santa themes throughout their stores. It’s hard to miss the rush of the silly season and the requisite purchasing. Holidays in view are Hanukkah, Deepavali, and Christmas, each of which reminds us to spend so that people can be fulfilled. The madness compounds and money tightens whilst wallets splurge. All to say—capitalism rages.

150 years ago Christmas was a quiet holiday without all the spending. Similarly, Hanukkah was a very minor holiday for Jewish people. The holiday celebrates the military victory of the few (the Maccabees) over the Syrian-Greeks and their leader Antiochus Epiphanes in 165 BCE. There is a legend of a small amount of holy oil lasting eight times its usual, lasting long enough to allow a new batch to be produced before it ran out. Hanukkah means “dedication” and represents the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerus…

New page, please

Editing is a great gig. A person doesn't have to write a thing, but has the power to change what others have written by permitting or not permitting a line, a headline, or even a paragraph. Spin is the word many use to discuss the news media today. When I was a young man in the US, Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were the go-to men whose reporting was objective and reliable. On radio it was Paul Harvey who told us the news and it was the truth. Here in Australia, the ABC was the most reliable, certainly without neo-spin. But now things are different.

The editor has power to change the language and the meaning of a report. The crumbled paper shown here represents the attempts of the author to get it right, and yet this is all meaningless if the editor chooses 'an angle' that the report should carry. And the sad thing is that so many media outlets nowadays are choosing a flank, a particular ideology rather than what some would characterise as fair and bal…

Is there really hope?

Mention the words Columbine or Colorado Springs, Sandy Hook, Port Arthur, Paris' Bataclan Theatre, and 9-11 and immediately images of terror and pain, mass murder and head-shaking fill your mind. The world is bad and getting worse. When the G-20 gathers, when Congress or Parliament in Australia or the UK conduct talks and seek answers, most thinking people simply wish them well, but doubt any real substantive changes will occur. Where is there hope?

Last summer I stood in Amsterdam, in the shelter/ home of Anne Frank. If anyone knows daily fear and chronicled it well enough to become the journalist of the new world, it was this mature teenager. She wrote in her diary, “Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” Hope gives life, to be sure, and real hope is even deeper. But in light of recent and continuing terror, I ponder the question, "Is there such a thing as false hope?"

William Ruddick writes in Bioethics, …

For US folks... a Thanksgiving poem

My Thanksgiving

The autumn-time has come; on woods that dream of bloom,
And over purpling vines, the low sun fainter shines.
The aster-flower is failing, the hazel’s gold is paling;
Yet overhead more near the eternal Star appears!

And present gratitude insures the future’s good,
And for the things I see I trust the things to be;
That in the paths untrod, and the long days of God,
My feet shall still be led, my heart be comforted.

O living friends who love me! O dear ones gone above me!
Careless of other fame, I leave to you my name.
Hide it from idle praises, save it from evil phrases:
Why, when dear lips that spake it are dumb, should strangers wake it?

Let the thick curtain fall; I better know than all
How little I have gained, how vast the unattained.
Not by the page word-painted let life be banned or sainted:
Deeper than written scroll the colors of the soul.

Sweeter than any sung my songs that found no tongue;
Nobler than any fact my wish that fa…

Distance from here to there

Distances are hard to measure in the skies. To measure distances in the universe, a person would need to construct what is commonly referred to as a "cosmic distance ladder". In other words, astronomers use different methods to determine the distances to objects; the specific method which is used depends on how far away the object is. But all of the methods are wonderful combinations of science and mathematics!

I travel a fair bit and enjoy seeing the world through my camera and my own eyes. If you are familiar with Flickr, and even my Flickr site, you know I have thousands of shots of nature and enjoy seeing what God made.

When I'm close to a flower or the beach, the distance is fairly easy to determine. When I'm on an airplane and see the clouds or this rainbow which I saw from the golf course on Monday, I cannot so easily figure out how to measure the items. Of course, as a former mathematics teacher, I could use angles and radii and approximately measure items …

World Trade Centre and seeing forever

Last week I ascended 102 stories of the new One World Trade Center in downtown New York City. The elevator took 47 seconds, and thus traveled 22 miles per hour to get me there. I was not alone. The queue outside was not too long on that Tuesday, and I was happy to exit the lift at the top. The view was blocked by a video screen which quickly ran a history of the development of the area and of the building itself. Then the screen lifted and voila there was the world outside From above as the sun set across the City.

I was delighted with the views. As I walked forward, the path took us past the restaurant/ cafe and then we paraded onto the 100th floor where the expanses were visible in all 360 degrees. I remembered the Twin Towers had a similar view, but this one was clearer on this day. No clouds; just New Jersey in the distant background as the sun kept setting.

The theme of the show was 'see forever' and the company that sells photographs of you superimposed on the scenery (…

Sneaky, deception and there hope?

Sleight of hand is a remarkable visual and sometimes audial trickery that most of us admire. We watch David Copperfield and generations ago watched Harry Houdini, and we are amazed and scratch our heads. “How did he do that?” when he saws a lady in half or makes an elephant disappear. Even those magician shows we watch, when they slow down the trick… most of the time I don’t see how they do it.

I watch the football here in Australia and am constantly amazed when I see what they call a ‘dummy’ play. This is where one player pretends to offload the ball one way or another and ends up with almost-Copperfield-like sleight of hand and moves the ball forward with rapid-fire trickery. We applaud that play and wonder why the defense doesn’t know what he will do. Of course, no one knows what he will do, and perhaps even the offensive player doesn't know what he will do, until he sees the defense react one way or the other.

This is true in many sports and many situations of life, but …

Removing enemies

By Bob Mendelsohn
Given in Lane Cove, NSW
From Judges 1-2, Joshua 23
25 October 2015

Thanks to the band for great music today, and to Darren and the staff for allowing me to speak today. Those regulars here know that I have been with Jews for Jesus for a few decades, since 1979 actually and you will get a chance to support that missionary organization today and my work in it particularly using those white cards inserted in your news sheet, or donate up the back at the book/ resource table in the hall.

Music and rhythm
I really like the music of church, in fact, I like a wide variety of music, and find myself tapping along on the back of a pew or the steering wheel of my car quite often. It’s the rhythm which I pattern. The book of Judges has a rhythm all its own. Let me give that to you right away so you can recognize it throughout the teaching series at church, or whenever you read the book.
The rhythm is
1) Israel is disobedient
2) Israel cries out for help
3) God d…

To stir or not to stir...good question

I enjoy cooking, and find all kinds of reasons to include sauces and spices in simple vegetable concoctions. Mustard and raisins and chia seeds...they can all make their way into the least likely main dishes. And I like the idea of stir fry. Now I'm sure there are times when real chefs tell us not to stir, as the result will be too thin or too mushy or too something. OK, I get that, but generally my meals are better served if the flavours are allowed to blend.

Here in Australia, we have a national commitment to stirring. By this I am not referencing the culinary arts, but rather the troubling kind. You know, someone who stirs up situations only to 'get a rise' out of someone or some group. "He's just a stirrer" is a brand of commendation in Oz. So as a messianic Jew, this comes naturally to me. I was always a bit of a rebel, and an activist, especially in my later teens, and that has stayed with me through the decades.

But what about troubles that really d…

Making choices....whom to follow

The Bible says, "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13.7)

This could be a little confusing. Basically the writer of the Newer Testament book of Hebrews is saying this, "If you want to make good choices about theology and about life, look to the people who taught you things, and go with the guys who have a good end-game, whose lives and teachings match where you want to land. Don't follow false teachers. Don't be tricked by your own itching ears. Consider the end, the result, the final landing zone of the teacher... and go with the people who will get you there also."

I know, those aren't the translations, and not the actual text, but it might help someone today who is caught in the either/or place of discomfort brought about by anti-missionaries whose apparent only care for Jewish souls is after they have come to faith in Jesus. I've never seen a…

Who bears the guilt for the death of Jesus?

Published in Eternity website in Australia: here During the 2015 Hillsong Conference, Jarryd Hayne, the former Parramatta Eels rugby league star and now running back for the San Francisco 49ers, sent out a tweet to his followers: “Jesus wanted to help people but was killed by his own people.” The next day after being challenged by one of his followers that Jesus was killed by the Romans, Hayne wrote, “The Jews were the people who took him to the Romans n [sic] forced them to give the order because they couldn’t.”

Because of the tweets, Jewish representatives immediately launched a counter campaign. Hayne subsequently removed the two tweets.

Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote about the Jewish reaction, quoting the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Dvir Abramovich, who said he was deeply concerned by Hayne’s tweets and labeled them “damaging, painful and irresponsible”.

“For thousands of years Jews were held in contempt and were persecuted and …